The storefront that precedes Lavanderia Vecchia is now home to Lava. A deli with mossy green walls and checkered tiles on the floor. A lone ham and 4 long salamis greet me when I come in. Doilies are pinned to the furniture at random intervals while barren wrought iron candle holders decorate the wall.
The space is large; I count 4 rooms one of which is also the kitchen. On Saturday afternoon, there are two tables besides our own but not at the same time. The customers speak English and I wonder if they have made the trip especially since outside, it’s mostly Turkish men reclining on fold out chairs and smoking effusively.
The menu is small and scatty or one could also call it eclectic to put a more positive spin on it. There is a cold cucumber yogurt soup (€4.90). Spaghetti with vegetable Bolognese (€6.50) that is like a miniature ratatouille, one that uncharacteristically (and unfortunately), includes carrots. The vegetables are cut into brunoise, which shows me there is pride and care in the kitchen. The pasta has passed al dente and entered stodge town, which alongside the carrots, lets the dish down.
Then there is the glass noodle salad (€4.90). I order it because I’m intrigued, it doesn’t seem like a thing I should be able to order when 4 salamis and a ham have greeted me. It’s spicy but not nearly as limey as I would like nor are there any herbs, rendering it one dimensional.Perhaps because the menu changes daily one visit isn’t nearly enough to judge Lava. Had I gone on the 19th of June, I might have found the veal meatballs with potato cucumber salad (€7.50) exceptional but I happened to be there on 15th of June instead and found it pleasant enough. Although, I appreciated the effort more than the result.
Despite my reservations, if Lava were closer to me, I would be a patron. The staff is lovely and an open kitchen always reassures me. I feel that there is enthusiasm in the kitchen, even if on my visit, they didn’t quite make it happen for me.
Daily 12 – 23